South Park: The Stick of Truth (PS3) Review: The Funniest Video Game Ever
It is a slight miracle that South Park: The Stick of Truth
has even got released. This game’s turbulent history has been well publicized over the years from THQ’s collapse and switching publishers to it’s numerous delays. You would be forgiven in fearing the worst for this title. After playing the game for 30 minutes those fears soon evaporate and you quickly realize you are playing something special here. South Park: The Stick of Truth
is not only one of the best licensed games you’ll play, it is a deeply rewarding RPG that will keep you entertained throughout it’s entire duration. As long as you don’t get offended by anything like fighting Nazi Zombie aborted fetuses or throwing your excrement at a enemy that is.
The story is straight out of the classic South Park
playbook and if you've seen the recent console wars trilogy of episodes you will be immediately aware of what’s going on here. You play as a new kid who has moved to South Park for unknown reasons and you must simply make friends and settle in as much as possible. The boys are of course playing their usual role playing games and this time it involves keeping hold of the all powerful stick that controls the universe.
Once you have initially chosen you character class (four options including the aptly titled Jew) and given brief tutorials on how to battle, you are given freedom to most of the entire town to explore. Some areas are inaccessible due to needing keys or new powers that you will learn later in the game in classic RPG fashion, but initially the area you can explore is rather remarkable.
Pretty much the entire town has been plotted out for the first time in the show’s history and you can walk straight from your house, take a trip to see the goths hanging by the school, swing by the church and see if you can ‘find Jesus,’ or just go for a drink at Skeeter’s Bar. Huge fans of the show will find it incredibly fascinating to just walk around for the first few hours of playing and see all there is to offer in this world, and there is a lot.
Battles play out very similarly to turn based games such as Paper Mario
in the genre, where you fight up to four enemies at a time alongside your buddy of choice which you can switch at any time from the likes of Butters and Kenny to fan favorite Cartman. Each character has their own special moves so you won’t just want to stick with one character as the fun you get from experimenting with each one is great.
I found the combat to be extremely rewarding, something which I did not expect going in. At first it seems slightly basic as you can rely on the same moves for a lot of the early enemies but as time progresses you really have to start thinking about what you can do in each battle. The difficulty progresses nicely to the point that by the end of the game you are pulling off combos and moves that you wouldn't have dreamed of doing when you first started playing. Don’t let the game’s length fool you. This may not be a tradition RPG but it is certainly as fun to play as any I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
The game looks identical to the show, something which must have been harder than it looks to pull off. So many different areas are filled with gorgeous art that you will only see once, it is clear that an incredible amount of work and care has gone into making this the most faithful recreation of the show that we've ever seen. Growing up watching the show and now playing the game as a young adult, it’s really a dream come true to finally feel like you are in the show.
The sound design is perfect as all the characters are voiced by their TV show counterparts and everything feels just like it should. So many little touches have been made such as hearing Terrance and Phillip episodes when you walk past a TV to hearing so many songs from the show’s past when you walk into a shop such as the montage song or Sexual Harassment Panda’s theme tune.
The loot you collect which can be sold for money is mainly references from the show which ranges from every episode throughout the show’s history. Basically, if you have a favorite episode, there probably is at least one reference to it in this game. The fan service on display is unlike anything I have ever seen in a game before and the more you like the show, the more you are gonna love playing this game.
Outside of the main quest is a bunch of different side quests that have you meet tons of familiar faces from the show’s past. They range from the simple such as helping Stan fight his older sister Shelley to get his iPod back to the epic such as helping Al Gore track down ManBearPig, with hilarious consequences. These all help to break up the main quest and lengthen the game to be around twelve hours long to finish. This is short for an RPG but this isn't a traditional RPG.
There is zero grinding involved in the entire game. You also rarely have to go to the same place multiple times, there are actually entire sequences you will only see once. With grinding and repeating content, they could have easily doubled the time it takes to finish but there really is no need. It feels like a complete and focused experience this way. Plus you can always replay it if you crave more like myself.
Character customization plays a huge part in the game as you can choose pretty much everything you see on your character. After initially choosing your characters looks you can change your outfit from hundreds of different options, each with their own battle benefits. You unlock more as you progress as well as buying them from the cash you procure. You can even change your characters looks by going to Tom’s Rhinoplasty for an expensive procedure. I’d recommend the Hasselhoff nose job for one of the game’s best jokes.
One of the big draws of South Park: The Stick of Truth
is of course it’s humor and jokes as you basically get around twelve hours of new South Park content to dig into. I wouldn't dream of ruining any of them here but I was astounded at how the game kept me both entertained and in hysterics for a majority of the time. Towards the end of the game when you would expect things to tail off it just kept getting better and one of the final sequences is one of my favorite things I've ever played in a video game.
I should note that I played the EU censored version of the game. The only parts that are censored involved anal probing and abortions and I have watched the respective sections online so I know what I missed out on. I think it’s actually ridiculous that the censors chose these scenes to censor as they are nowhere near the most offensive in the game. I think they just wanted to show they censored something to avoid the inevitable complaints, but really this is just a small footnote in what this game has to offer.
Some slight issues I had with the game involved not explaining some sections that greatly. The fart tutorials in particular did a horrible job of showing how they are done and I was stuck on how to get passed it for a few tries. In game they are really easy to execute I just felt that the tutorial was very misleading. Having beat the game twice already this is a very minor issue, but I feel I should mention it as it did frustrate me during my first time playing.
When it comes down to it you really have to ask yourself, how much do you like South Park
? Even though I thoroughly believe that this game has very solid and fun RPG mechanics, it is still wrapped up completely in South Park’s brand of humor. If you don’t like the show it will be hard to put up with a fart joke for the 10th time in a row just to play the game. If you like the show then I can’t see how anyone wouldn't have a blast playing this game.
As a fan who grew up loving the show and has faded in and out of love with it over the years, South Park: The Stick of Truth
was a complete breath of fresh air and has invigorated the entire show for myself. After completion I immediately wanted to go back and watch old episodes and reminisce all the great moments that are so greatly represented in this game. I don’t think we'll ever see a bigger love letter or faithful recreation of a TV show like this again and this is definitely one to soak and enjoy for a long time indeed.